Shackleton's Shetland Pallbearers - A Talk

Shetland Museum and Archives will be kicking off its Year of Stories by marking the 100th anniversary of the burial of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the lives of the six Shetland pallbearers.

A talk will be given by Jon Sandison, Anderson High School History Teacher and Military Historian, on Saturday 5 March, exactly a century since Shackleton’s funeral was held in the Norwegian church at Grytviken, South Georgia with 100 Norwegian and British whalers in attendance. The six pallbearers were all Shetlanders and WW1 veterans.

Image credit: Thomas Binnie

Jon Sandison explained: “One hundred years on, it is so important that we can pay tribute to the extraordinary lives of these six Shetland men, who by circumstance and employment, were chosen to be the pall bearers to one of the most renowned explorers of all time. Whilst it is generally known that Shetlanders were pallbearers to Shackleton, the fact that their story to this day has continuously stayed below a local historical radar is in itself a testament to the type of unassuming, humble characters they were; despite all that they saw and witnessed.”

There will also be a small exhibition in the museum galleries which has been created to mark the centenary of the burial. It includes a fragment of a bronze leaf from one of the wreaths placed on Shackleton’s grave in 1922. The fragment was brought to Shetland by John Harrison of Northmavine, as a souvenir from his time as a whaler on South Georgia.

Curator Carol Christiansen added: “We are very pleased that Jon has agreed to share the research he has undertaken on the lives of these men. One of the themes of Shetland Museum and Archives’ Year of Stories series is Overcoming Hardship. There could be no better example than the Shetland men who took whaling jobs in South Georgia after being away from Shetland during their service in the Great War. And 100 years ago, they found themselves laying to rest another compatriot who had overcome adversity and hardship.”

The talk will take place on Sat 5 March, at both 11.00am and 2.00pm in the Shetland Museum and Archives auditorium.

Ticket are £5 and can be bought here.

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

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